Baltimore to temporarily open 4th shipping channel

  • : Agriculture, Coal, Coking coal, Freight, Metals
  • 24/04/24

The Port of Baltimore is preparing to open another, deeper temporary shipping channel this week so at least some of the vessels that have been stranded at the port can depart.

The new 35-ft deep Fort McHenry Limited Access Channel is scheduled to be open to commercially essential vessels from 25 April until 6am ET on 29 April or 30 April "if weather adversely impacts vessel transits," according to a US Coast Guard Marine Safety Information Bulletin. The channel will then be closed again until 10 May.

The channel also will have a 300-ft horizontal clearance and 214-ft vertical clearance.

This will be the fourth and largest channel opened since the 26 March collapse of the Francis Scott Key Bridge. The Unified Command has said that the new limited access channel should allow passage of about 75pc of the types of vessels that typically move through the waterway. Vessels that have greater than 60,000 long tons (60,963 metric tonnes) of displacement will likely not be able to move through the channel and those between 50,000-60,000 long tons of displacement "will be closely evaluated" for transit.

There were seven vessels blocked from exiting the port as of 27 March, including three dry bulk carriers, one vehicle carrier and one tanker, according to the US Department of Transportation. Two of the bulk carriers at berth in Baltimore are Kamsarmax-sized coal vessels, data from analytics firm Kpler show.

The US Army Corps of Engineers still expects to reopen the Port of Baltimore's permanent 700-foot wide, 50-foot deep channel by the end of May.

The Key Bridge collapsed into the water late last month when the 116,851dwt container ship Dali lost power and crashed into a bridge support column. Salvage teams have been working to remove debris from the water and containers from the ship in order to clear the main channel.

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